Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Councillor McGregor said, in response to a member of the public who asked a question about the impact of the ‘bedroom tax’ on her daughter,

Issued on behalf of Wansbeck Labour

Leading Liberal in offensive ‘bedroom tax’ slurs
Councillor tells families faced with bedroom tax to ‘cut down on cigarettes and wine’
A storm has erupted over comments made by a leading Northumberland Liberal Democrat who suggested the so called ‘Bedroom Tax’ could be remedied if families hit by the new charge ‘gave up cigarettes or wine’ to pay for the new charge which will affect an estimated 5,222 families across Northumberland.
Councillor Andrew McGregor, Liberal Democrat member for Bothal Ward in Ashington made the comments in an Area Committee meeting held in the town.
Councillor McGregor said, in response to a member of the public who asked a question about the impact of the ‘bedroom tax’ on her daughter,
‘I don’t know why people are worried about paying their bedroom tax? It’s only a couple of packets of cigarettes or a couple of bottles of wine. For some people, it’s not even two bottles’.
Councillor McGregor’s comments were branded a ‘disgraceful slur’ and ‘an insult to vulnerable people’ by Northumberland’s Labour group in a joint statement.
His comments follow a grovelling apology issued by a Manchester based Housing Company which advised tenants to ‘cut down on Sky, cigarettes, bingo, drinks and other non- essentials’ if faced with charges under the controversial tax.
Labour group spokesperson Lynn Grimshaw candidate for Bothal Ward said
‘Andrew McGregor’s comments show his ignorance about a ‘tax on spare rooms’ which will hit an estimated 5,222 families across Northumberland. Families and individuals face losing between £446 and £886 per year and many families are struggling to pay their bills and Councillor McGregor has stigmatised them all with these crass, insensitive and misleading comments.    
Councillor McGregor should immediately and unreservedly apologise for this disgraceful slur on tenants and we’re calling for his political leader, Jeff Reid to condemn these comments and show some leadership.
If Jeff Reid fails to act on this matter then he’s abdicating his responsibilities to decent people in Ashington and across Northumberland who will see this as an insult to people some whom are vulnerable’.
Notes to Editors
The person who asked the question wishes to remain anonymous for the purpose of this story but will confirm the circumstances around the question and why Councillor McGregor’s comments were so insulting.
  1. Andrew McGregor’s information including contact details can be found at
  2. The story about the Manchester Housing Company Eastland Homes can be found at


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